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Last Chance for EP Teachers and D124 to Avoid Strike

A final bargaining session is set for Monday between the Evergreen Park teachers union and D124 school board to work out a new teachers contract or teachers walk on Tuesday.

The Evergreen Park teachers union and the Dist. 124 school board have one more try at settling a new teachers’ contract before a threatened strike.

Both sides are scheduled to meet today (Monday) at 5 p.m. at Central Junior High School, following a community rally that is set to begin at 4:15 p.m.

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If a contract agreement cannot be worked out, the district's teachers and paraprofessionals from Evergreen Park’s five public elementary schools are poised to go on strike tomorrow (Tuesday).

A teachers strike would affect 1,800 students in grades K-8.

Last week, teachers and paraprofessionals lined 95th Street waving signs and asking passing cars to honk their horns in support of their quest for a fair contract. The union and school district board met for five-and-half-hours but were unable to reach an agreement.

According to a summary of negotiations available on the D124 website, the school board increased its final offer in the three sticking points: salary, insurance and retirement. The school board maintains that the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers union’s final offer remains unchanged since Aug. 30.

Illinois Federation of Teachers’ spokesman Dave Comerford said that “both sides weren’t even in the same ballpark” after talks broke up last Wednesday.  The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers is part of the IFT.

The school board summary for Sept. 26 was removed from the district’s website at the request of the federal mediator. However, in a summary statement from an earlier meeting on Sept. 24, the school board said that the union declined present a written counter proposal.

“Both parties exchanged supposals for the three areas of compensation, however no agreement was reached,” the D124 school board said in its statement.

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Unlike the Chicago teachers’ strike, where CTU and CPS negotiated up to the 11th hour, the Evergreen Park teachers union and D124 did not meet for any negotiating sessions this weekend. The teachers’ union has maintained its willingness to meet with the school board’s negotiating team at any time.

Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak said previously that the district would not be opening any school buildings during a possible teachers’ strike.

The district has posted a suggested list of activities and resources for parents to help their students keep up in class and childcare resources in the event of a teachers’ work stoppage.

Meanwhile, the Evergreen Park teachers union posted on its Facebook page that members were busy over the weekend distributing flyers and galvanizing community support in its quest for a “fair” contract.

Trees and homes throughout the community were draped in blue ribbons showing their solidarity with the teachers union.

Said one parent we spoke too while photographing a tree wrapped in a blue ribbon: “The teachers are only asking to keep what they have.”

Check back with Patch for continuing coverage of Evergreen Park teacher contract negotiations.

Lee, EP taxpayer October 01, 2012 at 01:37 PM
There is no shortage of teachers, 160 teacher aides applied for one job. If they do not like their job QUIT.
Susan Young October 01, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Ep taxpayer. It is time to value teachers for their service to the children to and countless hours they give to their craft. The notion that a teacher has less value than other professionals such as a physician, business owner like myself, or another worker is a hallow argument. We need to be respectful of all workers and the amount ot time invested in their own education and continued education credits. Many of our teachers are invested in the community because they are tax payers as well which further demonstrates a strong commitment to not only their craft but to the Evergreen Park community as well as long time supporters. In the long run a fair contract is a win-win for all parties but most of all the students and community of Evergreen Park.
TM October 01, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Lee, do you LOVE your job? No? Then quit. Geez. This article, nor any of them regarding the possible strike are even about whether or not they like their job. If you have a classroom full of students then YES they would have to love their job. Would you want a classroom full of students? Are you even a parent? p.s. look back at your comment, i hope you realize how stupid you sound. "There is no shortage of teachers, 160 teacher aides applied for one job" sorry to break it to you but teachers and teachers AIDES are two different things. Have a great week
nooneyouknow October 01, 2012 at 03:00 PM
"In the long run a fair contract is a win-win for all parties...." Agreed - which is why the union should have accepted the Board's offer.
Bob October 01, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I certainly hope that calmer heads prevail and there is no strike. This issue of the contract should be based upon a few sensible, simple principles: 1) The contract should not create a situation where current revenues would not be sufficient to fund the contract without raising taxes or fees, cutting programs, laying off staff, increasing class sizes or neglecting the facilities.This is a finite and definable number, and should be a limitation on the contract increases. With this as a fair basis, the teachers should not walk out on the kids and the highly supportive families. If the union can find a revenue stream or economies that can fund higher amounts, that should be a PUBLIC discussion shared with the community for their approval. 2) Raiding reasonable cash reserves, or borrowing at taxpayer expense, should not be an option. To maintain adequate cash reserves (about $10 million for 6 months operating expenses) and enough for badly needed renovations, the $6 million additional is already spoken for in the best interest of the children. 3) Continuing to serve the children while the union can come up with a way to reconcile their demands with available revenues seems a fair and reasonable approach, and consistent the way the district has kept staffing at the certified, teacher and administrative employee levels certainly speaks well of their commitment to the children and communities.
Bob October 01, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Our faculty teach the children that "bullying", using power and intimidation to take from others, is wrong. Walking out on the children and community would certainly fit this definition. I pray the union members practice what they preach and stay in school instead of hurting the children to force others to meet their selfish demands.
Bob October 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Susan, I hope you would agree that a "fair" contract is one in which the contract does not require deficit spending to put the childrens programs and class sizes at risk or result in layoffs of other staff. It seems the Board contract proposal meets thesse criteria, and the union's proposal does not. Why can't the union remain responsible to the children and families and stay in school until they can come up with a plan that meets these simple and fair critieria? Unfortuantely, unions serve to turn sensible professionals into a bullying mob, hence the problems in public education in Illinois!
gottago42 October 01, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Heads up everybody the school board members do not get paid. They are just people that want to make sure our tax money is spent correctly. i think in this economy and in this neighborhood its almost greedy to ask for more money. when i look at the average salary ep teachers make I think "i wish"
Lee, EP taxpayer October 01, 2012 at 09:07 PM
TM I was a union guy for 60 years, I know when the Union painters went on strike for 3 weeks, it took 17 years to get back the money they lost. All we heard was CTA bus drivers make more than we do, then become CTA bus driver. Quit if you are not happy, I made payrolls for 60 years. No teacher has ever had to made a payroll..
Lee, EP taxpayer October 01, 2012 at 09:11 PM
TM I am a parent I had 5 kids, put them all tru schools and college, I have lived in EP for 59 years, I have seem it all. Open your eyes.
Bob October 01, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Back when I was a kid, bullies would hang out around routes to school and demand that kids give them their milk money if they wanted to pass and go to school. Is there really that much difference in what those bullies did and what the 124 teachers would be doing if they prevented the kids from having school tomorrow?
joe taxpayer October 01, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I think every one of them should be fired! My wife hasn't had a raise let alone cost of living in 5 years. There are plenty of willing, unemployed eager teachers waiting for jobs. I have been involved in several collective bargining meetings. Its all about being reasonable.
Former taxpayer October 02, 2012 at 12:31 AM
As a former Evergreen Park taxpayer and district 124 parent, and a teacher, I know the job that teachers do and the quality education my children received, and how much it costs taxpayers. But there is a time when one must consider all factors. My educator pay raise is 2% per year as I continue to nurture, nurse,and teach my students. To lose any of the benefits for the job I do is unacceptable. So many comments seem to disregard the many facets of the job that teachers do, and then tell teachers if they do not like the job then to quit. Really, how many of you are truly happy with your job? Do you quit? The idea of bringing in new teachers, many inexperienced, sounds like a quick solution. How many of them will stay when they do not receive the respect they deserve. A fair contract that reflects the value on the job the teacher does is the only acceptable outcome.
SchoolMom October 02, 2012 at 02:26 AM
I am a school administrator outside of District 124, and a parent of a child in District 124. It is so aggravating to hear, "the kids are the losers" in every strike. If my kid is out of school for 1 day or 1 month, it is my duty as a parent to make sure he is learning, whether he is inside or outside of school. I would much rather have happy, eager, proud teachers working with my son for the next few years, even if it costs a few days of him being OUT of school. As for EP taxes, while our family complains about them every year, we also realize what a great village we live in, and that we pay for what we get. That includes a great community center and library with tons of activities, holiday celebrations that people from everywhere come to attend, consistent communication, and a great education where my son LOVES to go to school everyday, growing leaps and bounds every week. The only thing that upsets me about the strike is that my son will miss his teacher; but, I know we all want the best for those who serve him so well. As an EP parent and taxpayer, and as an educator myself, District 124 teachers deserve the minimal requests they are making, and I support them.
Stay strong October 02, 2012 at 04:07 AM
I'm sure we can replace the teachers also with much more than a 160 applicants.
Stay strong October 02, 2012 at 04:13 AM
"Minimal" are you serious? Hopefully for your sake the dchool district you work won't figure out this you. You deserve to be fired !!!!
SchoolMom October 02, 2012 at 10:13 AM
Oh wow "Stay Strong".... It looks like you had a bad experience with education, considering the way you write in terms of content and grammatical errors. Clearly you also didn't pay attention in your social studies classes either, because regardless of where I work or what I do, enacting my right to speak (or write) my opinions in a respectful manner would not get me fired if they "figure out" who I am. Teachers who are simply asking for a contract to stay the same IS minimal to me. It saddens me that because others out there, like you, either don't have a job or are miserable in the jobs they have, have decided that the public sector also pay the price of an economy that has soured. What happened to the mentality that the people our children are with at least half of their day aren't appreciated financially and as professionals?
Concerned October 02, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Anyone out there that stands with the board on this one (who are all elected and serve voluntarliy, btw), please take a moment to email Kathy Rohan and tell her so. krohan@d124.org
R Gibbons October 03, 2012 at 04:43 AM
SchoolMom...Thank you! An intelligent, well-presented post!
R Gibbons October 03, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Concerned...why do you feel the need to stress "voluntarily" in your posts? They chose to run for the school board and campaigned just like politicians. As for "voluntarily", don't think for a minute that any one of them passes up an opportunity to place this position on a resume thereby seeking higher compensation in their "regular" salaried jobs. Come on now...
Concerned October 03, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I stress that the school board are volunteers because I'm trying to get at motives here. The board is being made out by some to be stingy villains. It's important to know that none of the money they are overseeing will ever go to them. They are not going to get a bonus if they save the school district money. Compare their role to the union leadership. It is literally their job, for which they make six figures, to come between the teachers and the board. Why aren't they getting the same criticisms on here for not living in the district? Why does everyone assume they are "for the children" but somehow the board is not? I don't know all of the board members and can't vouch for their behavior behind closed doors, but they are all successful people who are giving back by serving their community. I can't say the same for the union, to whom I indirectly pay, and yet have no recourse when I don't like their plan for my tax dollars.
R Gibbons October 03, 2012 at 12:34 PM
And your argument is valid. However, I sat on the negotiating team for the first Union contract for Distr 124 support staff and saw first hand the dedication of coworkers making $6-7 / hour, some support staff that had their pay cut when they took a higher level position after working in excess of 10 years with the district. The district would start them at entry level salary for the new position. No longer in this society would I choose to be an "at will" employee.
R Gibbons October 03, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Additionally, the negotiators are the teachers from each school who have worked with a Union leader for months also voluntarily going over all aspects of this contract some of which you will never really be privy to. These negotiators also are caring, dedicated, taxpaying teachers who know each and every one if their students and never forget them. They take time to follow some students' progress as the student advances grades. Teachers are impacted by their students the same way students are impacted by their teachers. I would hope these posts bring understanding and empathy for all concerned. No parties in either side should feel like a total win when a contract is accepted. But negotiations should remain civil and non threatening.
Concerned October 03, 2012 at 02:40 PM
R - I get it about what the teachers and paras do voluntarily, but there are not two sides to this problem. There are THREE - the teachers, the board, and the IFT. Is this town so pro public sector union that we cant be honest about the union, their motive, and their role in this? It's the teachers union, AFSCME, and other PUBLICALLY FUNDED unions that support Madigan and his machine. It is an unholy alliance, and cannot be allowed to continue.

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